By James Brightman
Take-Two has been rumoured to be an acquisition target for some time now. While the company was once thought of as nothing more than the house that brought you GTA, Take-Two has since grown its portfolio of successful titles to the point where they can be profitable in non-GTA years. Analysts have said this makes the company even more appealing, and IndustryGamers decided to ask Take-Two COO Karl Slatoff about a buyout scenario.
“I would agree with the analysts that you’re referring to, that our IP obviously makes us a very attractive investment for anybody, whether it’s a separate company or an individual investor, an institutional investor or a retail investor. I do think we have the best IP out there and we’re continuing to invest in it. And that’s our strategy,” he told us.
Slatoff’s words certainly don’t mean that a buyout is imminent, but it’s interesting to hear from one of the top men at the publisher that they at least appear to be open to the idea. Back in 2008, when Electronic Arts desperately tried to land a deal with Take-Two prior to the release of GTA IV,Take-Two was rather firm in its belief that remaining independent was the best bet. And it’s possible that that’s still the case today – Take-Two has been quite happy with its independent status. Slatoff just wants to continue building great IP.
“At the core of it, we believe that the most value that you can create in an organisation – an entertainment organisation – is to build franchise value. And the way to build franchise value – at least our approach to building franchise value – is to go for quality in triple A development versus quantity. And I think we’ve proven that we’ve been able to create these franchises and they go from generation to generation… But in terms of remaining independent or not independent, I think we’re a fantastic company as an independent company and we’ve shown our ability to thrive in that environment. But, like I said before, we’re a great investment for any kind of investor, in my opinion,” he said.
Regardless of whether or not Take-Two is acquired, the company is in a far better situation than they were during the EA buyout saga a few years ago. “I think, frankly, the difference between then and now is more time has passed and we’re deeper into this console cycle and we’ve had the chance for some of these IPs to get released. At that point we hadn’t done L.A. Noire or Red Dead and BioShock was still early in the franchise. NBA [2K] is also much more powerful a brand than it was at that point in time,” Slatoff continued.
Slatoff also touched upon Take-Two’s IP strategy, which shows just how different their attitude is from, say, Activision (which, ironically, would be one of the few companies to have the cash to actually buy Take-Two). Take-Two clearly does not believe in annual release schedules – something that other companies like Activision and Ubisoft have been guilty of lately. It’s a problem that could lead to franchise fatigue.
“At the end of the day, you always want a balance of sequels and new IP because you keep the pipeline going. If you have franchises, by definition, you want to have sequels. And you’re buildling an audience. The trick is – and I think this speaks to our strategy – making sure that every time you release something (it may be a sequel within a franchise), you make sure it’s fresh and it’s something new, which is one of the reasons why you don’t see us releasing something every year… we don’t come out with a BioShock every year or a GTA every year. We don’t do that. Sports is different because sports is going to be a yearly thing. But every time we do something we need to make sure that it’s building value for that franchise, and not just releasing it because we can,” he concluded.